Friday, October 07, 2005

MicroTrack Update

This is a follow-up to my article as I continue to track reviews, user comments, and tests on this much-anticipated audio recorder.

TapersSection has voluminous information coming in from users of this device. I will summarise here for those without the interest in reading dozens of pages, or who do not wish to register. I am also following threads on, rec.arts.movies.production.sound, other newsgroups, and web boards.

Good news is that some of the bugs discovered thus far are being fixed in firmware revision 1.5, which should be out by 8 October.

This will leave the following limitations:
• 2GB file limit
• no input monitor mode
• cannot record in mono
• dynamic range limited to about 16-bit
• only 30V phantom power (instead of 48V per the spec)

The first two of these are due for fixes in the future. The last two are design limitations.

An official Neumann rep has commented about the phantom power issue.

If you want to read more, I've got a direct link to the user manual.

Sample audio files are linked to from the following newsgroup post: one, two, three.

Another note: battery life is reduced considerably when using microdrives, so it's better to stick to regular flash CF cards. They are also more reliable.

When all is said and done, this is a decent recorder: tiny, no moving parts, reasonable ergonomics, and features. But although it can record a 24 bit audio stream it should be seen as no more than a 16 bit recorder in terms of audio quality. And though it has "phantom power" the fact it will not work to spec and puts extra demands on the battery negates the practical use of a range of condenser mics without an external phantom source.

It basically fits in the same niche as a Hi-MD recorder.



robin said...

The new driver version 1.1.5 is out, with several bug fixes as promised. One can now record digitally at 24-bit/48kHz, the level meter and battery meter are more accurate, etc.

robin said...

The 2GB file limit issue has been clarified. When this limit is reached during recording, the device will automatically save the file. You can then start a new recording if your media is larger.

If you want to start a new file before the limit is reached then press REC twice and wait about 5 seconds... like a quick "tape switch". What the device will not do is automatically start a new file for you. This feature promised for a future firmware release.

robin said...

File transfers are quick and seem mostly limited by the media you are using. It has been reported that 2.5 GB takes only 10 minutes from a microdrive card.

robin said...

M-Audio now have a faq on the phantom power issue where they list some compatible microphones.

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